FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The following are some basic answers to frequently asked questions about hospice. We believe the best time to learn about hospice, and ask about hospice, is before hospice services are needed. To learn more and speak with a nurse about how hospice may be able to assist you or your loved one, call
WHAT IS HOSPICE?
Hospice is available to people living with an end-stage disease including cancer, pulmonary disease, ALS, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, HIV-AIDS, and any other life-threatening illness. Hospice care is available to patients who no longer wish to seek treatment directed at curing their disease. The hospice benefit is flexible. Initially, a physician certifies that the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less, if the disease follows its normal course. The first two certifications are for 90 days each. Thereafter, the physician re-certifies eligibility every 60 days. As long as the patient is re-certified, he/she remains eligible for hospice, even when it exceeds six months. A primary goal is to control pain and other symptoms so the patient can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Hospice includes all of the services needed to manage an individual’s medical care and also provides emotional and spiritual support for the whole family. Hospice stresses quality of life and is an alternative to extended medical or curative treatments. Many people actually live longer under hospice because their symptoms are managed and treated based on their unique needs and preferences.
HOW DOES HOSPICE WORK?
Individuals are usually referred to hospice by their personal physician, although individuals can be referred by their families or even by themselves. The hospice nurse evaluates what the person and family needs and develops a plan of care. The plan addresses the entire family’s needs: medical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and support services. The nurse then coordinates the care with a physician and the full team of health professionals. Under the direction of a physician, hospice provides an all-inclusive set of services needed to manage all of a person’s symptoms and complications. Medical care is given, symptom relief is provided, and the patient and family receive the support and understanding they need.
WHAT SERVICES ARE INCLUDED?
- Home Care Services with 24/7 RN Availability
- Physician Consultation & Oversight
- Spiritual Care
- Social Services
- Assistance with Daily Care by a Nursing Assistant
- Volunteers for Help and Companionship
- Counseling & Bereavement Support
- Continuous Bedside Care as Needed
- Inpatient Care for Aggressive Symptom Management
- Respite Care for Relief of the Caregiver
- Music Therapy
- Pet Therapy
Intense caregiver relief programs that include:
- In-home housekeeping services
- Assistance with light meal preparation and feeding
- Intense in-home care and education following a change in patient location
- Bedside assistance as needed
- Caregiver Coffee Break Program designed to provide a volunteer for bedside assistance while a caregiver takes a personal break or runs errands
Medications and supplies including:
- Medications for pain and symptoms
- Medical supplies for in-home care
- Medical equipment for the patient’s care and comfort
HOW DO I ASK FOR HOSPICE?
You don’t have to wait until your physician brings up hospice. You can take the initiative, you can begin the discussion with your personal physician, or you can request an evaluation directly from a hospice program at any time. Hospice care begins with a referral, usually from your physician, but referrals can be made by you, family members or even friends. If you are not sure you are ready or if you think you want hospice but need more specific information to help you decide, you can ask for a hospice consultation.
HOW IS HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE DIFFERENT?
Palliative care specialized medical care for people with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care that provides increased home support for individuals with a life expectancy of six months or less.
WHO PAYS FOR HOSPICE CARE?
Hospice is 100% covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial insurance. It pays for a wide range of support services that are aimed at keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. Typically, hospice is able to be provided at no out of pocket expense to the patient or family.
CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
Yes, a person has the right to end hospice care at any time. An individual that stops hospice care for whatever reason may also choose to restart hospice care at a later date, if they wish.